When it comes to Scottish Labour’s great brainwave about “restoring” Tory tax-credit cuts, the madness just won’t stop. Here’s Magnus Gardham, formerly political editor of Scotland’s staunchest Labour paper the Daily Record, in the Herald today:
Read that one over a few times.
Let’s strip it down a bit.
So you can create a “bigger pot of cash” and make things “easier to afford” without having generated any revenue? How does that work, exactly, Magnus?
Straining our generosity sinews to the maximum just for the mental exercise, the best sense we can possibly make out of that is that Gardham means “a bigger pot of money than the SNP would have, because they’d have cut APD”.
But that’s obviously a total nonsense, because it’s money that doesn’t actually exist. It’s relative money, being compared to a hypothetical scenario where the SNP are in power. (Which is by definition irrelevant, because if the SNP are in power then clearly it doesn’t matter a toss what Labour’s plans are.)
You can’t spend relative money. You can’t buy a TV by strolling nonchalantly into Currys and saying “I’ve got more money than someone else who comes in here would have if they’d spent their money on a new fridge, so give me the TV for nothing”.
You’ve still got to actually have the money for the telly. And Labour still have to find the money for tax credits from somewhere. (Incidentally, we don’t know if the SNP are planning to adopt the new tax thresholds, so as things stand Labour don’t even have relative money there.) And we know they haven’t got a clue where would be.
Magnus Gardham can spin the story to bash the Nats and try to make Labour look good all he likes. That’s his job, at least as he sees it. But at the end of the day he can’t magic half a billion pounds out of nowhere any better than Jackie Baillie can. He might have a big pot, but – and we’ll keep this clean – he’s got nothing to put in it.